Characteristics of patients who highly utilize telephone medical care in a private practice

J Fam Pract. 1989 Jul;29(1):59-63; discussion 63-4.


All patient telephone calls to a two-physician private family practice were recorded for a 2-month period. There were 1264 calls, of which 539 were patient-initiated calls for specific medical problems. The 21 patients responsible for four or more of these 539 calls were labeled high utilizers. Chart comparisons were done for high-utilizer and 20 control patients. Calls of high utilizers were also compared with all other calls. High utilizers were older and showed evidence of more emotional dysfunction, more face-to-face medical contacts, more medical problems in general, and a suggestion of less social support. They did not seem to use the telephone in place of face-to-face visits, but used it in addition to an also higher rate of direct physician encounters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Private Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone*